From staff reports | Photo courtesy of SC Athletics
No. 16 South Carolina used a combination of timely hitting and pitching on its way to an 8-4 victory over No. 12 Auburn to seal the series win on Sunday at Jane B. Moore Field. The Gamecocks outscored the Tigers 22-6 over the final 18 innings to secure its first road series victory of the year.
It marks the second time in the Beverly Smith era the Gamecocks dropped the series opener and came back to win a pair on the road and the first time over a ranked team away from Carolina Softball Stadium.
Cayla Drotar (8-5) earned both wins in the circle as the Gamecocks improved to 7-10 in SEC play while Auburn dropped to 9-7.
South Carolina (31-12, 7-10 SEC) looked poised and confident in front of a raucous crowd of 1,807 at Jane B. Moore Field.
Smith recalls milestone wins
Both teams traded a scoreless first before South Carolina took the lead in the second on Jordan Fabian’s sacrifice fly out to center field to take a 1-0 lead through two.
Two more runs in the third, thanks to a pair of errant Tiger throws, allowed Drotar to score from first before Alyssa Kumiyama plated an additional run extended the lead to 3-0 through three.
A scoreless fourth inning for both squads was followed with two more runs in the top of the fifth, when Madison Owens and Mackenzie Boesel pushed the lead to 5-0 heading to the bottom frame.
Auburn (33-10, 9-6) made things exciting in the bottom of the fifth with two runs that cut South Carolina’s lead to 5-2 with six outs to go.
The sixth was a scoreless endeavor for both squads before the South Carolina offense came alive in the top of the seventh. Katie Prebble blasted her first-career SEC hit with a two-run homer over the wall in center field to make it 7-2 before Jana Johns blasted her 10th home run of the year to give the road team an 8-2 lead with three outs remaining.
Auburn scored two in the bottom of the frame, but Dixie Raley earned the save and closed the door on the weekend.
Drotar earned the win in the circle, going 4.2 innings with just two runs allowed.
Boesel, Johns, Lauren Stewart and Kumiyama recorded multiple hits in the contest.
The Gamecocks improved to 6-5 on the road with the win and 7-11 against top-25 teams this year.
The victory marked the first time under Smith the Gamecocks dropped the opener to a ranked opponent on the road and came back to win the series.
South Carolina improved to 7-5 in Saturday and Sunday games in the SEC this year with the wins over Auburn.
With 22 runs on the weekend, Carolina had the most runs it has had in an SEC series this year this weekend. The previous high was 15 at Arkansas.